How to Help Your Senior Parents Downsize

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As your parents grow older, you may notice that they don’t need as much space as they have in their current home. Sometimes too much space can pose a safety risk because chances are their home was designed for a younger family. If this is the case, it may be time for your parents to downsize to a home that is more suitable for their needs. It is a complicated and emotional process for a senior to leave the home that they’ve spent much of their life in, but with your help, they can realize that this is the best decision they could make. Here are a few tips to consider when helping your parents downsize.

 

Be compassionate

 

Once you have gotten the okay from your parents to downsize, it is all too easy to become distracted by the many details of the moving process while shutting out their feelings and opinions. Keep in mind that this was a difficult decision for your parents to accept and right now, they need your support more than anything. Allow them to have a say in what belongings will be kept or discarded before the move and also allow them time to reminisce or grieve as they pack their things. Letting them express how they feel can help them cope, but it is important that you do not let them dwell in those emotions. Be a shoulder to lean on but also give them reasons to be excited and look forward to moving into their new home. Reinforce the positives; perhaps it’s closer to you and your family or near a nice park where they could take their morning walk. Giving them reasons to be happy about the move will make the transition smoother for all parties involved.

 

Hire movers

 

Although it is important to have your parents be a part of the moving process, you will need to hire movers because lifting and moving heavy boxes poses a health and safety risk for older adults. There are plenty of options for moving companies, so be sure to do your research, read reviews, and compare prices. The average cost of hiring movers is $25 an hour per man.

 

Some movers may construct a customized floor plan for the new home so your parents will be able to visualize where their belongings will fit. If your parents have special medical equipment or supplies, talk to the movers about ensuring that everything stays accessible and undamaged during the move. Arrange for any unwanted goods to be disposed of by way of estate sale, consignment, buyout, or donation.

 

Make the new place feel like home

 

The best way you can ease your parents into their new home is to make it feel as familiar as possible. This is a key factor when relocating older adults, so be sure the first few belongings that are unpacked are some of their favorite things. Hang portraits on the walls and drape their favorite throw blanket over the couch. Keep in mind that the more it looks like home, the easier the emotional transition will be for them.

 

You’ll also need to take into account whether their new home needs any modifications so that they can age in place. This can include anything from adding grab bars or non-slip flooring to doing a full-scale kitchen or bathroom remodel. Just remember that costs can add up quickly (e.g., a bathroom remodel in nearby Denver can cost up to $20,000), so make sure that any modifications are within their budget

 

Downsizing may be met with some resistance by your parents, but as long as you manage to keep the process simple and give them as much support as they need, they will begin to embrace the next phase in their journey of life.

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Being Wise with Your Windfall: Tips for Using Your Tax Refund

coins-currency-investment-insuranceIf you’re expecting a hefty tax refund this year, you may, like many people, intend to have some fun with your windfall. After all, it’s your money and you worked hard for it. There’s nothing wrong with heading out for some much-needed vacation time or buying a big gas grill for those summer cookouts. As tempting as that may sound, before you buy anything, consider the benefits of using a tax refund to better your financial situation.

Savings

If you’re among the many Americans who lack a rainy-day fund, think about setting all or part of your refund aside in an interest-bearing savings account. You never know when the transmission in your car may give out or an aging roof might start to leak. These are costly repairs, and the average American is unprepared for them; in fact, just 39 percent of Americans are capable of covering an emergency costing $1,000 or more. If you lack at least three months worth of emergency savings, that tax refund may serve you better as an emergency financial reserve.

If your roof could use some work, repairing it is an excellent use for a tax refund. You’ll head off more serious problems resulting from neglect somewhere down the line. But be diligent in looking for a qualified roofing contractor, and ask yourself several questions to determine what, exactly, you need. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure your contractor is accredited, and check out the BBB website for complaints or any disputes or scams a company may have been involved in, as well as tips regarding what to look out for.

Pay Down Debt

Debt is a fact of life for most Americans. If you struggle with credit card debt or are behind on the mortgage, your refund can help you out. Paying off debt is a smart move because the high-interest merry-go-round can be very hard to get off when you’re just managing it by paying the minimum every month. That can take you years to pay off even a moderate amount.

College Savings

According to CNN Money, most Americans can expect to pay about $57,000 for a degree at a public college, and more than $100,000 at a private institution. That’s a lot of money for anyone. Why not use your refund to open a 529 or Coverdell education savings account? And investing in your state’s 529 plan may result in a nice state income tax deduction. However, beware of using the money for unqualified purposes, which can earn you a 10 percent penalty.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA lets you stash money away that becomes tax-free after age 59.5 as long as it’s been open for at least five years. You can contribute to it as you wish and withdraw the sum of your contributions without being hit with a tax or penalty. Your Roth earnings can be used tax-free for education expenses or for a first-time home purchase.

Invest in Yourself

You are your own most valuable resource, your best hope for earning and growing your assets. Improve your ability to do that by investing in training, additional education, or by joining a professional association. It’s a good way to sharpen your skill set, pick up new knowledge, and make valuable new professional connections. The more you can improve yourself, the more valuable you’ll be to an employer or to clients.

Travel

Speaking of self-improvement, are you aware that travel broadens perspective and helps you keep problems, challenges, failures, and successes in their proper context? Think about spending a portion of your refund to go someplace new, a destination that’s always interested you.

Think of a tax refund as an opportunity, an annual chance to improve your financial situation and personal prospects. Think carefully before heading off to the Jacuzzi store or ordering a season football ticket package. By being strategic with your financial prospects, you can put yourself in a much better position to acquire those “toys” you really want and achieve financial security.